Considering An IT Consultant

A recent issue of CIO Magazine offered an insightful look into some of the questions that small and medium-sized businesses face when engaging an IT consultant.  It’s not only worth reading, but it’s worth a few words about how Clockwork Technology meets—and exceeds—the concerns raised by columnist Rich Hein in his article.

“There a number of reasons you may need an IT consultant, including training on a new piece of software, equipment or technology,” Hein writes. “Maybe you need an unbiased review of internal procedures or SEO. Regardless of the reason, finding the right consultant can mean the difference between success or failure. Add to that the legalities involved and it’s easy to see how challenging this task can be.”

Legal issues cannot and must not be overlooked when considering a consulting relationship. At Clockwork, there has been a concerted effort to make the legal conditions of our consulting relationship as clear and as concise as possible. And in reviewing Mr. Hein’s suggestions for an optimal relationship with a third party firm, we’re pleased to note that Clockwork takes a proactive role in each when entering into a new relationship with a client.

His seven suggestions, and our response to each:

1.” IT Staff Employee or Consultant?”

At Clockwork, consultants are our responsibility, not yours.  Companies often wade into the weeds when issues of taxation and benefits cloud the distinction between being a contract employee versus a consultant.  All Clockwork consultants are paid on a strict 1099 pay rate.  When you pay Clockwork, you don’t pay extra for the work.

2. “Protecting Your Intellectual Property”

In technology, intellectual property is one of the most important assets a company can maintain.  At Clockwork, we spell this out from the start so there are no misunderstandings going forward.  Unless otherwise agreed to, the work we do for a client is “work made for hire”—we do it, you own it.  Period.

Why does Clockwork do this?  Unless Clockwork is bringing its own proprietary technology to the table, we understand that  the work we perform is in developing or refining existing technology you as a company may be operating, and we‘re not in the business of legal claims to what we bring to that relationship.  Settling this up front allows for a better business relationship going forward, especially after the consulting engagement when a future business partner asks “So, who owns this?” Our agreements make that clear from the start.

3. “Conduct A Thorough Interview”

Adding an independent consultant sometimes can be just as time consuming as adding an employee.  When you work with Clockwork, the consultants we engage are experienced and ready to go.  Our consultant base averages between three and seven years service with Clockwork and are not the “here today, gone tomorrow” stereotype found among many IT consulting operations.  We’ll be glad to bring a consultant in to talk with you, but if you’re just ready to get things done, we can do that, too.

4. “Know Your IT Consultant’s Methodology”

A Chevy dealer isn’t going to hire a mechanic that only fixes Hyundais, so why would you hire a company that is focused on only one methodology for tech services?  At Clockwork, we employ a number of tools so that what works best for you, works best for us.   If Agile doesn’t work for you, fine—we’re not going to fit a square peg in a round hole just for you to be “an Agile shop”.

As our web site notes, “Our project methodology is based on industry standard project management and software development life cycle (SDLC) guidelines.  We tailor the methodology to the client’s preferred level of detail…Our collaborative approach to systems design and implementation provides for a system transition that does not disrupt current operations and minimizes post-implementation remediation.”

5. “Have a Detailed Contract”

There’s no hidden camera behind Clockwork and its agreements—we’ve posted the master service agreement (MSA) on our web site so that prospective clients know the rights and responsibilities of all parties.  It’s detailed, sure, but that protects all parties and in the end, it’s the right thing to do.

6. “Use Confidentiality Agreements”

Clockwork doesn’t require additional confidentiality protection because it’s already included in our MSA.  We’re “confidential” right from the start.

7. “Ensure the IT Consultant Will Train Your Staff”

Clockwork understands this more than most firms. We are not here to run your business.  As we’ve noted before, we will come in, assess the situation, and tell it like it is.  We’ll do the work and move on to the next project.  We’ll even tell you if you don’t really need us, or if you are better served with another alternative to meet your objectives in less time or with less cost than your original plan.

Post-implementation training is part of every relationship we engage.  Some companies want a lot of training, and frankly, some do not.  We work with what’s best for you, not for us.

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